General Assembly Establishes Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals to Follow Up on Outcome Document of ‘Rio+20’ Conference

22 January 2013

General Assembly Establishes Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals to Follow Up on Outcome Document of ‘Rio+20’ Conference

22 January 2013
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly


63rd Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Establishes Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals


to Follow Up on Outcome Document of ‘Rio+20’ Conference


Also Approves Text on Cooperation between United Nations, Caribbean Community

The General Assembly today adopted, by consensus, a decision establishing the composition of the 30-country Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, as called for by the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”) outcome document, entitled “The Future We Want”.

The Working Group’s formation was “long-overdue”, said Assembly President Vuk Jeremić as he addressed the Assembly before it adopted the decision, formally entitled “General Assembly Open Ended Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals” (document A/67/L.48/Rev.1).  In that regard, he referred to the Assembly’s stalemate on the matter at the end of the main part of its sixty-seventh session, in late December. Indeed, he said, months of consultation had been required, often producing deadlocked positions.  As a result, “we have fallen behind schedule”.

Nevertheless, the task before the Working Group was of fundamental importance, he said, as it would become the foundation of the United Nations future work.  Among other things, the Sustainable Development Goals must help to transform failing States and to empower those who longed for peace and reconciliation.  States must band together to defeat terrorists, go on the offensive against organized crime, endeavour to strengthen the rule of law, champion international solidarity, raise health care and education standards and protect limited natural resources.  It was difficult to imagine accomplishing such things without strong Sustainable Development Goals, he added.

“This has to be taken up with genuine passion” during the resumed part of the Assembly’s sixty-seventh session, he continued, stressing that the Working Group must be “at the very centre of our attention”.  Indeed, the first priority of the Secretary-General laid out this morning had been sustainable development. To achieve those aims, the President said that he was willing to help the Working Group’s facilitators present options for the financing of sustainable development.  Coordination must also be improved between United Nations system bodies in order to achieve a “truly coherent” set of Sustainable Development Goals.

He called for the Working Group’s substantive discussions to begin as soon as possible.  “As President of the General Assembly, I’m ready to give the [Working Group] my full attention,” so that it could be “well on its way” to elaborating the Sustainable Development Goals by the end of the resumed part of the session.  “This is a chance to truly define the world we want, and the United Nations we need,” he added, urging Member States to “seize the generational opportunity” and to create a future world in which no one was left behind.

A number of representatives spoke following the adoption of the decision, with many describing the urgency of the Working Group’s substantive discussions and thanking the decision’s facilitator, the representative of Brazil, for her tireless efforts leading to the adoption.

In that vein, the representative of Peru, who also spoke on behalf of Mexico, said that the day’s adoption provided a “unique opportunity to begin a process of change and revitalization” within the United Nations development agenda.

The representative of Papua New Guinea, speaking on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group, said that, with the adoption of the present resolution, “we have realized an important step in our quest to achieve our collective vision” as described in the Rio+20 outcome document.  Like others, he urged the Working Group to commence meeting immediately, and to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders, as well as expertise from civil society.

The representative of Venezuela appealed to States to make the Working Group a truly open one, saying every State should have the opportunity to be represented there.  In that regard, the Working Group’s conclusions should be adopted unanimously and through an open and transparent process.

The representatives of Sri Lanka and Colombia also spoke on the decision.

Prior to the Assembly’s action, a representative of the Secretariat announced that the resource requirements in connection with the decision on the Working Group’s composition had been included in the Report of the Secretary-General on revised estimates resulting from the decisions contained in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (document A/67/591).  Accordingly, there were no financial implications for the budget for the biennium 2012-2013.

The Assembly adopted, also by consensus, a text on “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Caribbean Community” (document A/67/L.53).

The resolution was introduced by the representative of Belize on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), who said that the draft resolution requested the continued support and assistance of the Secretary-General and the United Nations system to promote and expand its cooperation with the region, so that, together, they could more robustly confront challenges.

Moving forward, she said the Caribbean Community would encourage the United Nations to develop concrete projects in areas that the two organizations had identified for strategic cooperation, namely the implementation of the single market and economy, sustainable development, regional security, food security and food safety, human development, information and communications technology for development and institutional development.  In refining the focus within those areas, it was important to work towards “optimal impact on the ground” and proper monitoring and follow up, she said.

In other business today, the Assembly was informed that Fiji and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had made the necessary payment to reduce their arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the United Nations Charter.

The Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be decided.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.